So that was special, wasn’t it?
I think I’ve watched the game three times now, it was better than I realised, our performance more complete, the beating we handed out even more comprehensive than the score line suggests. That was a hammering on the scale of the 6-2 triumph, and not only in the four goal margin.
There were echoes of the O’Neill era all the way down the line.
But more, there were echoes of Stein.
I listened to Brendan after the game yesterday, and I was moved to hear him talk about the impact Jock has on his outlook as Celtic boss. I have never been terribly big on the idea that the manager of our club has to be “Celtic minded”, but it’s hard to argue that this kind of passion and understanding about our history and heritage is wholly positive. Brendan is a credit to us, he really is, and his obvious love for the club shone through.
“It was primarily about the guy looking down, the man who set the tone at Celtic, the template,” he said. “We said if Jock is looking down make sure we do him proud.”
I think he can safely say the team did exactly that.
This felt like a significant moment, but not for Celtic.
As my good mate said in the pub last night, this was like beating Hamilton or Dundee, a routine matter, easily dealt with.
The significance of this result is for them, and the first pricking of the bubble in which they’ve been living these past four years. Maybe it’s my general good mood that makes me feel kind of sorry for Warburton, and the hellish predicament he now finds himself in.
Take the response on the Sevco websites; let me put it this way, they are not feeling as at peace with the world today as I suspect most of us are.
They are shrieking their anger this afternoon, absolutely shrieking it.
The targets for their rage are many, but amongst those being singled out for the greatest abuse are Kiernan, Senderos and Kranjcar.
The manager is getting it in the neck for signing these guys, and the mounting fury he faces is only going to get more intense as this season goes on, but I ask you; what choice did Warburton really have? The club is paying big wages for many of these guys, no doubt, but he got little money to spend on transfer fees. These guys were mostly recruited for free, and there’s a reason why that’s the case; none of them is particularly good.
I laugh when I think of the build-up this squad of has-beens and never-weres has been given. I did a major article on their signings for Fields a few months ago and it was pretty clear that these guys were just not going to cut it. Kranjcar and Barton, in particular, have been over-hyped to a fare-thee-well and the Croatian is so far past his best that the signing was ridiculous. I cannot fathom what they were thinking there at all.
And Clint Hill? Jesus.
When you have a defender on the bench but move a midfielder to central defence rather than risk brining him on … that’s beyond belief, beyond embarrassing, and you can’t help but wonder what went through the mind of the man who ever sanctioned a deal for a 38 year old central defender in the first place.
But I repeat; when you are skint and trying to build a squad this is how you do it.
You take who’s out there, you fill up your playing roster with whatever dreck is available.
Warburton has been forced into this because the money to do otherwise is simply not there.
Last night, their forums were buzzing with people demanding the spending of money.
Which part of this are they not getting?
Their club is tapped out. The days when they could solve problems on the park by brandishing a chequebook are gone, and gone for good. This is it now for them, a fact that still hasn’t registered and which they are going to have to understand eventually.
As I said in a piece last week, whilst the media hyped their signing policy at the start of the season I was reminded of Dundee, as they went about trying to build a team of fading stars like Cannigia and Ravanelli. Their flirtation with this strategy lasted three years, and the best they did in that time was a sixth place finish and a Scottish Cup final in the first year.
Sevco’s strategy is highly unoriginal, and it has never produced league winning teams.
It is most often utilised by clubs whose ambitions are to avoid relegation or claw their way into Europe somehow, which was Dundee’s intention. It didn’t work then and there’s no sign that it’s going to work now. The gulf in class yesterday was enormous and I expect both Aberdeen and Hearts to put Warburton’s team away without difficulty, as both sides have better players at their disposal than are currently available to the Sevco boss.
Yes, he sanctioned the signing of these guys, but today I can muster a little sympathy for the predicament he finds himself in, because these were the best players available to him and the limited budget he finds himself with.
The scary thing for the club’s fans is that this dross will all have to be weeded out of the club eventually and replacements sought … and every day they’re on the wage bill will drain Sevco of the resources it needs to do a proper rebuilding job.
I’ve just finished watching season 2 of Narcos, the incredible story of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. By the midway episode, his entire organisation has been reduced to a handful of men still bound to him by loyalty and fear. His cash is all but gone, and his enemies are closing in on him from all sides. His options are being reduced day by day, his range of choices whittled down to just two; surrender or go out all guns blazing.
Sevco’s own choices are equally unpalatable; to accept mediocrity or chase the dream with one last roll of the dice. The problem is that they’ve nothing left to bet with except a dwindling cash pile from season ticket sales and even that isn’t enough to see them through this campaign.
They are in big, big, big trouble.
Later on this week, I’ll be writing about that in more detail.
Until then, enjoy the victory friends.